Madelyn and the King

by Alison Friedman in Marvelous Madelyn, Mommy's Musings

Madelyn is halfway through her senior year of preschool and she’s loving it. We are also loving the experience and watching her grow and blossom is so cool. I have no doubt that she’ll be more than kindergarten-ready, and while I’m excited to see her world get bigger in kindergarten, I want to squish her and pin her down to her preschool cubby so that she’ll stay little forever. That perfect little preschool bubble is just as comfortable for parents!

First day of school with visions of owning the playground dancing in her head.

First day of school with visions of owning the playground dancing in her head.

She’s in a pretty large class with other 4-year-olds and has two phenomenal teachers. As far as I’m concerned, they should both win Nobel Peace Prizes for the amount of content they seem to flood into the kids’ heads, all with such patience, enthusiasm, and warmth.

Madelyn went into her class this year unable to write her name, and now she’s writing it — both ways: Maddie and Madelyn — all over the place like its the newest trend in graffiti art. She already knew her letters and sounds, but now she’s starting to blend them and doing some basic reading. Kah-psshhhhh. There goes my mind. It’s blown.

This might be worth something one day.

This might be worth something one day.

My favorite thing about Madelyn in school this year is that she comes home and gives us a full report of who ate with who, a list of the naughty kids, the flavors of sand cakes she made in the sandbox, and a dinnertime recital of the songs that she’s learning from her teachers.

Tonight at the dinner table, she randomly started telling us a story that she clearly learned at school. We were wrapping things up and about to start the dishes when she broke out into this tale.

“There was a king. An old, old king from a long time ago.”

I assumed right away that she was telling us a story about a Jewish holiday and I immediately went into my mental calendar to think about this time of year and which holiday involves a king from a long time ago. Clearly, I failed Sunday school because I could not come up with it. So I asked her to elaborate. What did this king do? I assumed he would either save the slaves or enslave them. That’s usually how the story of our people go. And then we eat a deli platter.

“The old king said people are different. And then he yelled at the people about what he believed.”

Bryan and I squinted at each other. I think we were about to go with Pharaoh from the Passover story… In January. Weird, but whatever.

Madelyn saw we weren’t really getting it. She sighed. Rolled her eyes. And tried again.

“The old king! He was old. From a long, long time ago. And he told everyone they should go to school. He yelled at everyone. With a microphone.”

King. School. Microphone. It’s January.

The lightbulb went off in my head, but Bryan still looked confused. I recapped her words and we both broke out into belly laughs.

I asked Madelyn, “Do you mean Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.?” And she said “YESSSSSSSSS” a la “DUHHHHHH” and then, with relief, she further explained that “Donner Tooth King” who’s “you know, a king but not REALLY a king” said that some people have dark skin and “some people, like me — I have pink beige-ish white-ish skin” and that “all the skins — dark, light, whatever — should go to school together. Except not for Princeton because he has fur, not skin.”

She asked to see some photos of MLK and I showed her all the images that Google returned. She also had something to say as we scrolled through each photo.

“This is the Donner Tooth King. He’s so cute and handsome. What a nice guy.”

“This is when he was yelling at all the people because they weren’t listening to him. He was saying that everyone should go to school together. But it was loud because of the microphone.”

Her takeaway from what she learned at school is that everybody is the same — except for Princeton — and that it’s really silly that there were boys and girls who couldn’t go to school together. She pointed out that everyone in her own family has different color skin (“Daddy has darker skin than you.” — True) and that everyone should just listen to [mumble mumble] King. Though his title and two first names were a bit too much for her to say, his message was not lost on Madelyn, and I loved her retelling of the story and her innocence and simple understanding of a dream.

  1. Patty Valeo
    1/13/2016 11:41 AM

    Thank-you so much for sharing this! It really touched my heart and brightened my day!!

    Love and hugs to you all….even Princeton!!!!